Co-owner of Laurel Mercantile Co. and cast member of HGTV Home Town, Mallorie Rasberry, enjoys sharing her secrets to great home design and the beauty of opening her home and heart to those who visit Laurel to experience small town life.
If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that in 2018 our life would look like this:
- We would have a nearly 5-year-old precious, baby girl getting ready to start Kindergarten in one of our city schools
- Laurel would start filming it’s 3rd season of a home restoration show on HGTV
- Downtown Laurel would be a vacation destination
- We would own a retail store that sells only USA-made items (not to mention, in a building that was one of the worst buildings in downtown)
- We would have our house on this bed and breakfast website that allowed people from all around the globe to book a night’s stay at our house and Airstream (even just the fact that we have a RV!)
Well, I’m not sure which one I’d LOL at the most. I mean….guys, I don’t know how I can accurately quantify just how weird and amazing the last ten years have been for Laurel, for our framily (the Rasberrys/Napiers/Nowells) and for all the folks that have been knee deep in Laurel’s comeback story for years. It’s been an incredible, life changing story and I have a feeling that there will be even more “omg, I can’t believe that happened” moments to gasp at in the next ten years!
Back in 2015 we started the Airbnb journey at our previous home. Nearly all the homes in the historic district have a small, separate “mother-in-law suite” cottage in the back yard. For decades, folks have used these dwellings as rentals – but all long-term tenants. When we renovated our first home, we had an adorable little cottage in the back just like every other house on our street – and that’s where this story started. We were actually the first Laurel property on Airbnb and quickly realized our love for hosting folks visiting our hometown.
Fast forward to 2018, we’ve moved to a new house, have 2 properties on Airbnb, about to add a 3rd.... and Laurel now has almost 15 available properties on Airbnb and ALL of them are AMAZING! I’m so dang proud of the folks that have stepped up and taken the plunge to host. And here’s why:
For the past 10 years we’ve all sat around many a board room table dreaming up strategies and ideas to make folks want to visit our City Beautiful. We’ve hosted events, we’ve ran marketing campaigns, completed lighting projects, restored buildings and houses, opened up businesses, agreed to be on a TV show…..you name it, we’ve done it.
And what we’ve found is that when we host a family at the cottage, no matter if they are from north Georgia or North Dakota, it brings the last 10 years of our dream to real life. With each check in of a guest, we see the real result of everyone's hard work. Grassroots economic development at it's finest.
For example, when I am cleaning up after our guests, getting ready for the next one…you know what I find 100% of the time?
I find empty take out boxes from Mimmo’s, empty cups from Lee’s Coffee, empty cupcake wrappers from Sweet Somethings Bakery and empty bags from all our shops.
You know my favorite part about hosting guests at @the_laurel_cottages is how folks come to Laurel searching for a glimpse of the small town, American dream and how they don’t even realize how big of a role they are actually playing in that dream. By staying in Laurel, eating at our restaurants, buying things at our shops... each of them play such an important part in Laurel’s comeback story and I hope everyone that visits leaves inspired, optimistic and thankful for their own hometown. 🇺🇸 @visitlaurel @laurelmercantile @laurelmainstreet #hgtvhometown
Folks are coming to Laurel, spending their time and money in downtown visiting the Museum, shopping at our shops, walking underneath the lights from our lighting project, eating at our restaurants…..and they LOVE it. They are having the time of their lives, right where we have the incredible gift of living our life daily. Perhaps, that’s my favorite part of it all….our guests come to Laurel searching for a glimpse of the small town, American dream that they may have seen on TV…they get just that but they don’t even realize how big of a role they are actually playing in that dream.
Our hope is that each person that visits Laurel leaves inspired, optimistic and thankful for their own hometown and goes back home to make a difference. Because they sure are making a difference here in Laurel, even if they realize it or not.
There have been a lot of folks working hard to prepare for them,waiting patiently for a long while now....and we can't wait to say "Welcome to Laurel".
Mallorie graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2008 with a Bachelor of Accountancy and immediately followed with a Master of Accountancy and passing the Certified Public Accountant exam.
Mallorie worked for KPMG and a large regional accounting firm before taking root in Laurel, MS helping run the family businesses, Rasberry Producer Group and Rasberry Financial Services.
They also co-own and manage their retail store, the Laurel Mercantile. In 2016 a partnership was formed between the Napiers, Nowells and Rasberrys, 3 couples made up of family and long-time best friends. They used their combined expertise in history, design, historic preservation, organizational management, finance and accounting to reopen Laurel’s bygone hometown store. Mallorie is the VP of Purchasing for the retail store, where the whole team is committed to only USA-made heirloom wares and durable goods for home and life.
You can also find Mallorie behind the scenes and on the small screen as a cast member on the HGTV hit show, Home Town. Mallorie is very involved with the downtown revitalization and economic development efforts in Laurel through her volunteerism on the Laurel Main Street Board of Directors as well as operating the Laurel Welcome Center and three bed and breakfast properties.
While their businesses and volunteerism keep the Rasberrys busy, nothing brings them more joy than their 5 year old daughter, Lucy.